Magic rites in the jungle seal the fate of a love triangle in the long-forgotten opera of H. Lawrence Freeman restaged on Friday and Saturday at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Voodoo was composed in 1914 and had its last performance in 1928. The music and libretto come from a composer who was a friend of Scott Joplin. author of more than 20 operas, and founder of the Harlem Renaissance’s Negro Grand Opera Company. The revival features Gregory Hopkins of Harlem Opera Theatre conducting in a production that drew on collaboration with the Harlem Chamber Players and the Morningside Opera. Continue reading
On June 23, the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to designate the Stonewall Inn an Individual Historic Landmark. The site is the location of the Stonewall riots of June 1969, an event that helped spark the current LGBTQ Pride Movement.
The building is already protected as part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and its significance derives entirely from its historical, social and cultural importance, rather than architectural, marking it a unique designation for the LPC. Continue reading
In Bronx Faces and Voices: Sixteen Stories of Courage and Commitment (Texas Tech University Press, 2014) sixteen men and women – religious leaders and activists, elected officials and ordinary citizens tell their personal, uncensored stories of the New York City borough — before, during, and after the troubled years of arson, crime, abandonment, and flight in the 1970s and 1980s.
The interviews are drawn from the Bronx Institute Archives Oral History Project’s interviews with hundreds of Bronx residents in the early 1980s, now held in the Special Collections division of the Leonard Lief Library of Lehman College, CUNY. Continue reading
As a scholarly specialist on the American peace movement, I am sometimes telephoned for background information by journalists writing articles about current demonstrations against war or against nuclear weapons. Almost invariably, they have no idea that the American peace movement has a rich history. Or, if they realize that it does have such a history, they have no idea that that history goes back further than the Vietnam War. This is a very big and unfortunate gap in their knowledge. Continue reading
In Pamela Newkirk’s Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (Amistad / Harper Collins, 2015) the award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a zoo exhibit — a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century.
Ota Benga, a young Congolese man, was featured as an exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Two years later, in 1906, the Bronx Zoo displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, four-foot eleven-inch man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe. Continue reading
A controversial plan to expand the landmark Frick Collection in New York City was withdrawn by its Board of Trustees on Wednesday. Historic preservationists, including New York City’s Historic Districts Council, opposed the plan, in part on the grounds that the new construction would have destroyed a gated pocket park. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York will present Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, a celebration of the City’s role as a center of the folk music revival from its beginnings in the 1930s and 1940s to its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as its continuing legacy.
A film screening of “Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion,” Matthew Silva’s documentary about an abandoned structure designed by modernist icon Philip Johnson for the 1964 World’s Fair.The film tells the story of the Pavilion from the glory days of the fair, through the years of neglect, up to present day advocacy.
The filmmakers hope this project will be the first step in engaging and informing people about the building in new and exciting ways. This whimsical, futuristic, and soaring structure, constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, has been left abandoned for the greater part of 50 years. Continue reading
The Lower Manhattan Historical Society (LMHS), in conjunction with the Bowling Green Association, the Sons Of the Revolution of the State of New York, the Sons of the American Revolution and Culture Now, has announced expanded historical activities in Lower Manhattan for the July 4, 2015 weekend.
On July 1, the Hermione, the full life replica of the ship which the Marquis de Lafayette sailed in 1780 to help save the American Revolution, will arrive at Pier 16 of the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan as part of its voyage to cities on the Eastern Seaport. Continue reading
Eliza Jumel rose from poverty to become one of New York’s richest women with the help of a fortune acquired from her first husband, Stephen Jumel. His own origins, until now shrouded in mystery, will be revealed in an illustrated lecture at the Morris-Jumel Mansion on Saturday, May 16, at 2 pm.
Speaker Margaret A. Oppenheimer, author of a forthcoming, legend-busting biography of Eliza, will disclose previously unknown details of Stephen’s parentage and youth. Continue reading
Ken Cobb joined me on “The Forget-Me-Not Hour” podcast this week, talking about one of the richest repositories in New York City: the New York Municipal Archives.
Ken, Assistant Commissioner of Department of Records and Information Services for the City of New York, talked about the collections of the archives – vital records, tax records, police records, almshouse records, mayoral records, legislative records, and more. Continue reading
Susan Henshaw Jones, the Director of the Museum of the City of New York, will retire in December 2015, according to James G. Dinan, Chair of the museum’s board. Jones has been the director of the Museum since February 2003. Museum board members are forming a search committee to find the City Museum’s next director.
Jones’ departure comes near the conclusion of a 10-year, phased expansion and modernization of the Museum, which will be completed in June 2015. She presided over a $97 million expansion and renovation of the 83-year-old landmark building located on Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street, and the creation of the new Frederick A. O. Schwarz Children’s Center. Continue reading
In the years between 1807 and 1971, the Hudson River was alive with boat traffic. The great Hudson River Day Liners were perhaps the best known of all the vessels – famous for their elegance and speed. New Yorkers and visitors alike experienced the river and magnificent landscapes from their decks and plush salons.
Now, a New York City nonprofit is planning to restore the S.S. Columbia, believed to be America’s oldest surviving excursion steamship, for service on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, with stops at Bear Mountain State Park, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, and Hudson. Continue reading
The distinctive footprint that disrupts Manhattan’s grid west of Broadway between 155th and 158th Streets – the Audubon Park Historic District – did not come about by accident or from the demands of local topography. It unfolded from careful planning and alliances among like-minded property owners, whose social and political connections ensured that when progress swept up Manhattan’s west side, they would benefit.
As a result, Riverside Drive splits at 155th Street where its 1911 branch snakes across the grid to 158th Street while its 1928 branch pushes straight up the river. At the same time, Edward M. Morgan Place – a one-block remnant of the earlier Boulevard Lafayette – slices across Audubon Park’s eastern side, severing a corner from what was once a geographically unified suburban enclave. Continue reading
In a cemetery overlooking the Hudson River just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, lies John C. Fremont, who’s contribution to the end of slavery and the Union victory in the Civil War was tremendous, though he is little-remembered today.
Most generally associate Fremont with the State of California. He is the namesake of Fremont, California, and in 1846 was court-martialed for leading a revolt of American settlers there against the Mexican government. He lived most of the latter part of his life in New York State however, in New York City, and Westchester and Rockland counties. He also played a critical role in shifting the focus of Abraham Lincoln’s efforts in the Civil War from a sectional constitutional conflict to a crusade to abolish slavery. Continue reading
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Historic Districts Council remembers five extraordinary women who changed the face of New York City:
Yolanda Garcia (1952- 2005), founded Nos Quedamos/We Stay in the early 1990s to preserve her neighborhood of Melrose Commons in the Bronx. In 1992 neighborhood residents discovered that the City was planning to evict them to realize an urban renewal plan. Incensed by the idea that their reward for enduring years of abandonment, arson and crime would be eviction, they confronted officials and sparked a productive dialogue about preservation and planning in the Bronx that continues today. Their efforts have become a model for community-based planning. Continue reading
Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in British North America.
In episode 20 of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Kyle T. Bulthuis, author of Four Steeples over the City Streets: Religion and Society in New York’s Early Republic Congregations (NYU Press, 2014), takes us on an exploration of early American religious life. Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in British North America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/020
Every city has its ghosts. From Manhattan and Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods to the far-flung edges of the outer boroughs.
Will Ellis’ haunting photography in Abandoned NYC (Schiffer Publishing, 2015) brings readers 200 eerie images of urban decay, through crumbling institutions, defunct military posts, abandoned factories, railroads, schools, and waterways. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York is presenting HIP-HOP REVOLUTION: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, an exhibition that shows the historic early days of hip-hop culture and music, with its roots firmly in New York, and how it evolved towards the worldwide phenomenon it is today.
Bringing together for the first time the work of three renowned photographers of the hip-hop scene, the exhibition shows the birth of a new cultural movement – with its accompanying music, dance, fashion and style – as it quickly and dramatically swept from its grassroots origins into an expansive commercial industry. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York will present a new exhibit, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, a comprehensive exhibition exploring the roots and impact of a landmark preservation movement and its impact on New York City. The exhibit will run Tuesday, April 21 through September 13, 2015.
New York’s landmark preservation movement developed over many years, but was galvanized by large historic losses in the early 1960s, most notably the demolition of the world famous and architecturally significant Pennsylvania Station in 1963. Continue reading